Logan finally earned a chance to exact revenge against Judge Memorial for a blowout loss the Bulldogs dealt the team two months ago.
Payback came in the form of turnovers.
The Grizzlies forced five first-half miscues four fumbles and an interception to beat Judge 28-12 for their second 3A championship in three years.
Things began unraveling for the Bulldogs when Logan opted for an onside kick on the opening kickoff and Devin Peterson subsequently recovered it for the Grizzlies. Logan started its drive on the Judge 32 yard line and took a 7-0 lead on Jeff Manning's 7 yard touchdown run 47 seconds later.
"It kind of shocked us," Bulldogs coach James Cordova said. "(Still), it's stuff we worked on. We knew they were going to pooch kick it. We knew they were going to do it."
From that dreadful beginning, a nightmare scenario unfolded for Judge.
Its first drive ground to a halt after Lewis Walker caught a ten yard pass from Joe Pond, only to lose control of the ball on a tackle. Jordan Ballam quickly dove on the bouncing ball the first of two fumble recoveries for the Grizzlies safety.
Pond coughed up the ball, at the line of the scrimmage, for a second fumble which set up a 14-0 Logan lead on Manning's 6 yard touchdown run.
An interception by Ballam at the Bulldog 28 late in the second quarter led to the Grizzlies final touchdown and a 28-6 halftime advantage.
Cordova thinks his team would have fared better if it had not succumbed to overconfidence.
"We played poorly to start the game," Cordova said. "We turned the ball over. Once we came out and played we were a dominant team. You just can't do that in a championship game."
Unlike some of the team's earlier wins, no fluke or lucky twist of fate led to Logan's first half defensive domination. The Grizzlies poured over game film of the Bulldogs' earlier losses and discovered the common denominator in those setbacks was their inability to hold onto the ball.
So the game plan was simple enough. Get Judge to put the ball on the ground and the game would quickly belong to Logan.
While Judge is disappointed in falling short of a state title, the Bulldogs are not disappointed in what they accomplished this season. Only a few years ago, just making the playoffs seemed like an impossible dream while the program struggled to emerge from a string of mediocre seasons."We're just happy to have Judge back on the map," Cordova said.
E-mail: [email protected]